Shanghai lets financial firms resume work as COVID curb ease

A man walks past Lujiazui financial district, seen across the Huangpu river, amid the lockdown in Pudong area to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China March 28, 2022.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shanghai authorities have granted approval to 864 of the city’s financial institutions to resume work, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as it gradually eases a city-wide lockdown that began seven weeks ago.

The move is part of the financial hub’s plan to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume after the lockdown was enacted to curb China’s worst outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan in late 2019 halted most economic activity.

The China Foreign Exchange Trade System, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai Futures Exchange, and China Financial Futures Exchange were among the 864 financial institutions put on a “white list” of companies allowed to resume work published by the Shanghai Municipal Financial Regulatory Bureau and provided by the sources that was reviewed by Reuters.

Bank of Communications 601328.SS, 3328.HK, and the Shanghai branches of other state lenders including Bank of China 601988.SS, 3988.HK, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 1398.HK, 601398.SS, Agricultural Bank of China 1288.HK, 601288.SS, and China Construction Bank 0939.HK, 601939.SS also appeared on the list.

Financial institutions who conduct nationwide businesses or system operations were given priority, the sources said, while those who were currently operating under a so-called “closed-loop” management or provided key financial support for companies to resume work were also considered first.

Shanghai authorities plan to publish more “white lists” on a weekly basis, allowing more financial firms to resume operations, according to the regulatory bureau notice.

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a Reuters query for comment.

State-owned newspaper Shanghai Securities News reported the approval earlier on Wednesday.

Bank of Communications said an outlet in Jinshan district resumed business on Wednesday.

“From today and onwards, some outlets of Bank of Communications’ Shanghai branch will gradually resume operations in accordance with Shanghai’s pandemic prevention and control situations,” the lender said in a news release.

More than 20,000 bankers, traders and other workers have slept over in their office towers in Shanghai’s Lujiazui district since late March to keep China’s giant financial hub running during the lockdown.

Shanghai has already allowed key manufacturers from sectors including auto industry, life sciences, chemicals and semiconductors to resume production since late April, after the latest wave of infection showed signs of stabilizing in the commercial hub that left vast majority of its 25 million residents confined at home.